I’m sorry,” the maid was saying. “I was only trying to help.” She turned to Regan and stared at her as if to say, Now what are you going to do?
“Are you all right, Thomas?” Regan asked as he clenched the red box that was stamped PEMROD JEWELERS.
“Regan, tell me this is a nightmare.”
“I’ll agree with you on that.”
“Sorry, Thomas. You look white as a ghost. Maybe you should sit down.”
Back into the living room they went, the maid, Clara, close at their heels.
“I don’t think I’m up to going back in Nat’s bathroom right now. Clara, will you show Regan the rest of the apartment?”
“Of course,” Clara said with a bright smile. “Come this way. I used to clean Mr. Pemrod’s apartment every week. What a nice man. It’s a shame he’s passed over.”
Regan nodded. “Thomas, just relax here for a minute.”
“Regan,” he said quickly. “I’m having a panic attack. I think I’d be more comfortable in my office. Would you meet me there when you’re finished”
Thomas, don’t lose it, Regan thought. She felt a sudden rush of affection for him. He looked like a deer caught in headlights. “Of course. Go ahead,” she said. “I’m sure Clara will be very helpful.”
Clara beamed. “You know, being somebody’s maid means you get to know a lot about a person. Have I taken care of some slobs in my day. But Nat, he was pretty good. Ya know, sometimes he…”
“Hold that thought,” Regan said as she escorted Thomas to the door. “See you in a few minutes.” She took the red box from his hands and turned back to Clara who was clearly enjoying the drama.
“You were saying…?” Regan prodded.
“Oh, yeah, I had one couple. Always left a mess. Disgusting-”
“I mean about Nat,” Regan interrupted as gently as she could.
“Oh, yeah, Nat.” Clara raised both her hands and looked up to the ceiling as though she’d find some insight there. “So sad after his wife died. She had a thing for all these crazy sheep.” Clara started walking down the hallway toward the master bedroom. At the doorway she stood aside to allow Regan to step in front of her. “Pretty, isn’t it?”
“Yes.” Regan noticed the dressing table that Thomas had mentioned, with all of Wendy’s toiletries still there. “Oh, and there is the bathroom,” she said, inching closer. Regan took a deep breath. In the absolute quiet, her senses were heightened, alert to catch every detail of this scene of death.
“I have the worst time keeping that marble clean,” Clara said plaintively. “I’ve tried all sorts of cleaners. But none of them was that great…”
It’s funny what people feel the need to talk about at times like this, Regan thought. But I know she means well. “That’s a big Jacuzzi to scrub,” she said in sympathy.
“Yeah,” Clara said. “But I’ve hardly had to touch it since Wendy died.”
“How come?” Regan asked.
“Because Nat hated baths. He only took showers.”